Nurses are being asked for their views on new draft standards to prevent potentially life-threatening mistakes in the use of intravenous drips.
The standards were launched today by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which highlighted an urgent need to tackle errors in IV fluid therapy for adults.
Research suggests as many as one in five hospital patients on drips suffer complications and may even die because drips have been administered incorrectly.
“IV fluids aren’t always prescribed or administered correctly”
NICE deputy chief executive Professor Gillian Leng said: “Intravenous fluid therapy is one of the most common hospital treatments. Unfortunately, IV fluids aren’t always prescribed or administered correctly and this can be dangerous to patients.”
The four draft standards, which accompany NICE guidance published in December last year, pinpoint areas where the institute thinks improvements are most needed.
Under the proposed standards, all hospitals must have an IV fluids lead who is responsible for training staff and reviewing the use of drips.
All healthcare professionals who administer drips must have been assessed to show they are competent in assessing patients’ fluid and electrolyte needs, prescribing and administering IV fluids and monitoring patients’ response.
Meanwhile, all adults on drips must have an IV fluid management plan and any “clinically significant” problems caused by fluid mismanagement should be routinely reported as critical incidents.
“By routinely reporting these events, even when they are well-managed, hospitals will increase learning, improving the likelihood of better patient outcomes in relation to mortality, morbidity, general discomfort and lengths of stay in hospital,” stated the draft document published by NICE.
Nurses and others have until 22 April to comment on the proposals. The final standards are expected to be published in August.